What does it cost to hire a public information officer? In Massachusetts, government agencies pay $80,000 to $150,000 per year for a single person to handle PIO and Public Relations duties. In this day and age, your department understands the need for a PIO, but there’s no way you can afford that.
So then, how does a couple hundred a month sound? Read on…
The image to the right shows a visual outline of how we recommend police and fire departments set up a Public Information Structure, and it shows eight steps we take to get you started, whether you’ve done PR/Public Information in the past or not.
Step 1: Social Media Policy
JGPR will produce and edit a social media policy that is customized for your department and/or that builds off existing social media policies in use in your community. It will also govern member behavior on social media when they are on duty or off.
Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are becoming aware and concerned about members’ personal social media accounts. Agencies are also using social media in an investigative role, in addition to outreach. Your policy would be all-encompassing.
Step 2: Create Accounts
We can create your department’s accounts for you and set you up with management software like Hootsuite. Sure, you’re aware of Twitter and Facebook, but we can also set you up on Google+, Google Places, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and other services that might be useful to you.
We would also design the account pages with your community’s colors, logos, patch art, and seals.
Step 3: Media Training
This is vital. You have to know how to talk to reporters before you are giving an interview or a press conference. We will test and train you on interview skills, public speaking, on the record/off the record, and reporter relationship building.
Step 4: Crisis Planning
Chiefs ask all the time: “What do we do when something bad happens?” The answer is simple: You get ready for bad things before they happen. Just like firefighters pre-plan questionable buildings and police departments increase foot patrols based on intelligence gathered, we teach you to be proactive for crises, knowing that they will happen.
It’s important to get ahead of a crisis, to speak promptly and clearly when necessary, and to take direct but not overwhelming action. You don’t hide from a crisis, you use it as an opportunity to show that you’re a good leader.
Step 5: Press Releases
We write your department’s press releases for incidents and for good stories too. When we sent them to our extensive media distribution lists that cover reporters from major and niche publications, including daily newspapers, hyperlocal media, ethnic media, television/radio, blogs, and community journalists.
Step 6: Direct Outreach
Blasting press releases isn’t enough, and it does not guarantee story placement. We follow-up with meetings and phone calls to reporters, directly pitching your story to the right media outlet. While press releases are vital for getting information out to the masses in a hurry, direct work is a far more effective method of getting features and positive stories out there.
Step 7: Incident Asset Allocation
We give you a plan for major incidents. You already know how to establish a water supply or a crime scene perimeter. We come in and show you how to wrangle the media and to establish an on-the-ground point of contact for the press. If we’re on scene, we also work with your members to gather and organize the press and to brief your chief on talking points, quotes, and the personalities of the reporters on scene.
Step 8: Live Drill
We will take part in your training sessions to demo PIO duties in real time.
Option 1 — Retainer
JGPR offers several methods for agencies to use our services. The most cost effective way to use JGPR’s services is through REGIONALIZATION.
Counties, Fire Districts, Chiefs Associations, or Law Enforcement Councils can group together to pool our services, with each department sharing a fraction of the cost of hiring an FTE staffer.
In one county, if at least 20 departments sign on for JGPR’s services, we can set up a menu of services that your departments can opt into, including tiered rates based on the population of the community and the services requested. We can tailor a customized package of services for every department, whether they just want someone on-call for emergencies, or they want social media initiated in their department, or they want a full, hands-on suite of services like pitching stories, staffing events, web design, and crisis planning.
Typically this group retainer keeps prices low and affordable for departments. Finally, the services you need are financially viable.
We also offer a discount for communities or groups of communities that sign up for at least a year of services. Separate departments in the same city or town are billed separately — police, fire, EMS, emergency management, etc.
What can you get for retaining JGPR as your PIO?
- Press release editing and distribution for all departments
- Press release writing and story pitching if needed
- 24/7 on-call PIO for emergencies and major incidents
- Staffing for press conferences and media interviews
- Free hosting for your department’s website or blog ($50/month value, alone)
- Media training for your group once a month, with relevant updates and new technologies
- Social media setup, training, and maintenance
- Reasonable per diem for holidays and overnight (Midnight-6 a.m.) incidents
- A single point of contact for the press for all your media inquiries — freeing up your dispatchers from taking media calls
- The services of John Guilfoil, plus your own, second staff member assigned to your group.
Departments can go it alone as well, and receive the same package of services a negotiated rate. Of course, it pays to bring friends!
Option 2: Per Diem
We offer all of the services above plus:
- Crisis Management
- Incident-specific PIO duties
- Website design
- Event publicity
- A comprehensive review of your department’s portrayal in the media
We can negotiate reasonable hourly or daily rates for any of these standard services. Rates vary based on time of day, holiday, and severity of incident.
Option 3: Project
If you have a project that you know will take more than one day to complete, you can contact us anytime for a consultation.